Victor Davis Hanson:
History is not static and it does not progress linearly. There was more free speech and unimpeded expression in 5th-century Athens than in Western Europe between 1934-45, or in Eastern Europe during 1946-1989. An American could speak his mind more freely in 1970 than now. Many in the United States had naively believed that the Enlightenment, the U.S. Constitution, and over two centuries of American customs and traditions had guaranteed that Americans could always take for granted free speech and unfettered inquiry.
That is an ahistorical assumption. The wish to silence, censor, and impede thought is just as strong a human emotion as the desire for free expression — especially when censorship is cloaked in rhetoric about fairness, equality, justice, and all the other euphemisms for not allowing the free promulgation of ideas.
George Orwell devoted his later years to warning us that while the fascist method of destroying free expression was easily identified (albeit only with difficulty combatted), the leftwing totalitarian impulse to squelch unpopular speech was far harder to resist — couched as it was in sloganeering about the “people” and “social justice.” It is easy to object to the speech codes of a self-interested, corrupt dictator in sunglasses and epaulettes, but difficult to fight censorship that allegedly helps the poor, minorities, and the helpless.
We can all but write off today’s university  as a place of free expression. In the age of Obama, zealots in the university have clamped down on any thought deemed reactionary. “Trigger warning” is a euphemism for trying either to censure literature or to denigrate it. “Safe space” is another term for the segregation of campus areas by race, class, or ideology. “Hate speech” has become a pejorative for uncomfortable truth.
So try a thought experiment. If Professor A in various fora — before the academic senate, at the “free speech” area of the quad, during student advising, in a faculty meeting, or during class — announced that on-campus, Christian student groups practiced hate speech and thus should be monitored or silenced, or he declared that due to white privilege he was holding private tutoring sessions only for people of color, or he urged that global warming deniers should not be allowed to spread their heresies in class, or he insisted that the nature and propriety of sexual intercourse should be post facto defined only by the female participant, he would be hailed, and many of those proposals would be taken seriously if they were not already part of campus protocol.
But if a bookend Professor B in the same venues announced that he found Muslim groups equally suspect, or that, due to constant deprecation of white males, he was holding tutoring sessions only for his European-American students, or that he was hosting a campus conference on the unscientific nature of the global warming movement, or if he urged the university to insist that any allegations of rape follow strictly the rules of evidence and procedures as outlined in the U.S. Constitution and state laws of criminal jurisprudence, he would find himself in a great deal of trouble, if not fired.
A pre-Enlightenment Age is not just the absence of uncomfortable free expression. It is also a sort of groupthink acceptance of a lie in place of the truth on grounds of social utility. Forensic evidence, testimony, and logic have shown that “hands up, don’t shoot” is a complete myth. Michael Brown, fresh from committing a robbery, walking down the middle of the street, apparently under the influence, lunged at a policeman, grabbed for his weapon, fled, turned around and charged, before being shot and killed. He was not shot in the back. Nor did he halt and put his hands up, begging the policeman not to shoot him. Yet the president of the United States often invokes generically “Ferguson,” as if it were proof of police brutality. “Hands up, don’t shoot” is analogous to “the earth is flat” or “the sun revolves around the earth.”
“Mattress Girl” is a Columbia University co-ed who had post facto regrets about once sexually hooking up with a young male student. She then recalibrated their pairing as a forcible rape, and yet was not able to demonstrate to either the university or the police that her allegations were valid. Yet she became a cult-hero. The progressive world embraced her as a feminist icon, as she lugged around a mattress and made an explicit sex tape , to further a narrative that could not be proven true. If one assumed that 2,500 years ago Socrates destroyed for good the notion of moral relativism in his take down of the Sophists, think again. The subtext of Mattress Girl’s whine is that even if she is lying, her cause still furthers progressive agendas and thus is not really a lie after all.
Current popular culture is not empirically grounded, but operates on the premise that truth is socially constructed by race, class, and gender concerns. Imagine if Mattress Girl’s male sexual partner had alleged that, in fact, he was coerced into sex, and then he carried his own 50-pound mattress around campus to draw public attention to her coercion. Certainly, he would be ignored or laughed at. Science, logic, probability, evidence — all these cornerstones of the Enlightenment — now mean little in comparison to the race, class, and gender of those who offer narratives deemed socially useful.
Eric Holder called the nation “cowards” for not holding a national conversation on race. But Holder did not wish a freewheeling discussion about the break-up of the black family, the epidemic of violence and drug use, the cult of the macho male, the baleful role of anti-police rhetoric and rap music — in addition to current racism, a sluggish economy, and the wages of past apartheid. Instead, the ground rules of racial discussion were again to be anti-Enlightenment to the core. One must not cite the extraordinary disproportionate crime rate of inner-city black males, or the lack of inspired black leadership at the national level. One most certainly does not suggest that other minority groups either do not promote leaders like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or do not seem to have a need for national collective spokespeople at all.
In our current Dark Age, logic is ignored in lieu of ideology. Hillary Clinton is declared a populist and — Presto! — she is a populist, railing about everything from hedge-fund operators to Wall Street hyper-profit making. No one seems to care that her egalitarian rhetoric simply cannot be true for a variety of reasons: Mrs. Clinton’s daughter, without any financial experience, worked for Wall Street investment groups and reportedly is now worth $15 million. Chelsea’s husband is a hedge-fund operator. Bill and Hillary Clinton have made over $100 million parlaying their public service into quid-pro-quo speaking engagements. The Clinton Foundation is little more than a clearing house that allows hundreds of millions of tax-deductible dollars from foreign grandees to be funneled into the Clinton machine in hopes of future crony capitalist advantages — as the foundation pays for everything from Clinton jet travel to sinecures for temporary, out-of-work political operatives. By any empirical standard, Hillary Clinton is an elitist manipulative multimillionaire, who with her husband mastered the revolving door of pay-for-play lobbying.
“At some point, how many people can we accommodate? ” asks @JerryBrownGov abt CA’s future at MWD #cawater meeting.
When I was young and Jerry Brown’s dad was gov., we all knew about el Nino.
We knew what it would mean.
We used to have Dr.George Fishbeck – a real meteorologist – who was not averse to lecturing us about el Nino, bear fat barometers, what great weather satellites we had over CUBA while we had none covering the West Coast, and so on.
Nowadays the weather is covered by good-looking guys and gals who know very little, but try to keep us entertained.
Nowadays our ignorant populace is led by an equally ignorant media, and equally ignorant set of politicians and a REALLY stupid bunch of ”educators.”
No wonder we are led around by our noses into dumb and dangerous situations.
Also part of the new Dark Age: violence. Frustrated minorities instigated into violent acts by greedy, racist hustlers who use the violence to further their own agenda… getting rich and holding power. Then, when the police come in to do their job, they are vilified because, naturally, they are apprehending and detaining, not to mention responding to violence WITH violence, minorities.
Occupy Wall Street, Ferguson, NYC, Baltimore, McKinney… they all bear this out.